Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Track-By-Track Album Review: 'Danger Days: The True Lives Of The Fabulous Killjoys' - My Chemical Romance

First of all, I want to preface this review with a huge thank you to Warner Brothers Records for being so kind as to fly me and Brandi from My Chemical Freak to California for the listening party. I can't thank you enough for inviting me to be a part of this event!

That having been said... Do you have your rayguns ready, motherfuckers? Get in the car. Quick.




My Chemical Romance
Danger Days: The True Lives Of The Fabulous Killjoys
Warner Brothers/Reprise
November 22, 2010










Track-by-track

1. “Look Alive, Sunshine”
The introduction to the album and the first time the listener hears narrator Dr. Death Defying's smooth Zone jargon. “Look Alive…” is exactly what you hear at the beginning of the “Na Na Na…” video, and – as you know if you have seen it – the two tracks blend perfectly.

2. “Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na)”
The first single from the album and a song that many of you have probably already heard. I, having heard it in the context of the rest of the album, can safely say that the song is, along with “Look Alive, Sunshine,” a perfect introduction to the Killjoys and their world.



3. “Bulletproof Heart”
Starting slow and simple with vocal harmonies to die for, “Bulletproof…” sounds almost like a song that could be in a production of “My Chemical Romance: The Musical” as the triumphant theme-song for united runaways.

The verses have a youthful bounce that sounds almost sweet or precocious, which induced smiles and head-nodding among the listening party crowd. The chorus, like a gust of furious, passionate wind hits, and I mean literally hits the listener. Through the chorus and until the safe landing on side of the next verse, the listener is soaring, windswept by its powerful melody and lyrics:

“Gravity/ Don’t mean too much to me/ I’m who I’ve got to be/ These pigs are after me, after you...”

The lyrics speak of the newspaper pleas for the missing Jenny and Johnny, characters Gerard had mentioned in interviews when the song was still titled “Trans-Am,” to come back home.

The mood of the song is that of carefree escape and a fight to survive for those who “do [their] talking with [their] laser beams.”

4. "SING"
The album's second single that delivers, with a quiet intensity through the verses and a bright illumination of a chorus, a message for the listener to express his or her self.

The video for "SING" will debut on MTV circa 7:50 EST on November 18.

5. “Planetary (GO!)”
The song starts with sirens, a clear-cut sign that shit’s about to go down in the Zones. Gerard Way’s opening vocals are hushed and intense, perhaps indicating quiet planning to run from the law force those sirens are summoning. With plans in line and rayguns at the ready, the song bursts out and the running begins with heavy synth and a dance beat.

The lyrics of the song are framed almost as an advertisement for things like “truth” at the beginning before they turn to defiance and running, a thing it seems the Killjoys must always do.

It’s as if My Chemical Romance is reclaiming the notion of the party and making it dangerous, dancing into it with violence, turning up the volume and saying something along the lines of: “Hey, you think I’m a drag? Deal with it, motherfucker!” The same notion can also be heard on "Party Poison."

"Planetary (GO!)" is mind-numbingly FUN, which may seem like a scary thing, but if you know you can never go home and you know someone will always be chasing after you, why not celebrate for the time you have, right?

6. “The Only Hope For Me Is You”
The second taste fans got of Danger Days.... "The Only Hope for me Is You" leads the listener through destruction and toward hope.

7. “Jet-Star and The Kobra Kid/Traffic Report”
Here’s Dr. Death Defying again, but this time his purpose is not to get us pumped for an adventure. He’s returning with “bad news from the zones, Tumbleweeds.”

8. “Party Poison”
The renamed, jazzed-up version of the song fans knew from The Roxy shows as “Death Before Disco.” It is hard to tell how it changed from the shows because, as I have come to find, the live versions of these songs – though awesome – do not justify how multi-dimensional and jaw-droppingly impressive they all actually are.

The song starts with the frantic and excited-sounding voice of a woman speaking Japanese. The sound of heavy, dirty guitars seem to sweep the voice of the woman away into MCR’s loud-and-proud “anti-party” party song.

Where the song differs from the “Death Before Disco” version can be heard in a few beginning vocal rhythms that stray enough from the expected to get one’s attention. There’s also a sweet, mini guitar solo thrown in at the beginning. “Party Poison” is a potent substance, enough to kill all parties.

9. “Save Yourself, I’ll Hold Them Back”
"Save Yourself..." is among several songs on the album that become a sort of uniting force for the "gang" in the Zones as well as for My Chemical Romance and the band's fans.

It sounds as if it could have come from the 1980's at parts, and - as a few fans pointed out - sounds almost Bon Jovi-esque, but it's updated from that sound, MCR-ified and turned brand new.
Dowload it for free! (Legally, of course)

10. “S/C/A/R/E/C/R/O/W”
As far as concept goes, "S/C/A/R/E/C/R/O/W" is probably the most “in-character” song on the album, and it also incorporates the most effects, it seems, with a sort of piercing, watery fog covering it.

The song, at its start sounds deceptively like “I Don’t Love You” with more piercing guitars. It sets the mood of the Killjoys’ world with lines like “Blow a kiss at the methane skies” and mentions of having “playground eyes.” It’s like a shrieking lullaby for nightfall in The Zones, warning the Killjoys to find somewhere to retreat to hide from the S/C/A/R/E/C/R/O/W.

11. “Summertime”
A slow, soft love song for the runaways. The track's positioning next to "DESTROYA," makes it seem almost utterly ridiculously tame and slow in comparison. However, it also emphasizes exactly how tremendously the songs of Danger Days can fluctuate in style through the album.

“Summertime” is a befitting title. From the start, the music of this song seems to connote summer. It's easy to picture sunny driving weather and windows down with this song playing. The synth in it has almost a shining sound reminiscent of sun on water.

The vocal delivery of the song made it a bit hard to decipher the lyrics, but the chorus ends with: “You can run away with me/ Any time you want.”

12. DESTROYA
When Gerard mentioned to a crowd on the U.K. tour that the song had a tribal beat, he meant actual tribal drums, which are what start this shocking number.

Absolutely heavy and utterly annihilating, "DESTROYA" raises questions about faith and superstition delivered as something between sexual aggression and straight-up rage. I’ve come to call the combination a “ragephrodisiac.”

Tribal percussion paired with rough and angry guitars mix the animalistic and rowdy cocktail for explosions and, well, destruction. "DESTROYA" is a feral call from a wild world. It really makes you want to slap Guns 'N Roses in the face for giving you such a poor welcoming to the jungle so many years ago. No exaggeration or hyperbolic MCR fan speak on that, either. I mean the Hell out of it.

13. “The Kids From Yesterday”
You think you know but you have no idea. My Chemical Romance was excited to play “The Kids From Yesterday” at their U.K. comeback shows, and I’m sure it was great live, and the videos of it are wonderful, but they lack much of what the recorded song provides.

A looping clip of screaming kids opens, infiltrates through, and closes the song and there are so many effects that one may have missed from merely seeing the live version.

The song exemplifies MCR’s progress as a band and how much they put into each piece of art they release, especially with the lyric “This could be the last of all the rides we take. So, hold on tight and don’t look back."

At the end, "...Kids..." pulls a "Drowning Lessons" and reprises briefly.

14. “Goodnite, Dr. Death”
Dr. Death Defying signs off for the album, reminding us to always keep running. Even if you manage to get yourself “dusted” along your journey through the Zones, “your shadow lives on without you.” Dr. Death signs off with the Star Spangled Banner, which ends with a bang that rippled the huge speakers in the room where the listening party was held and caused some degree of exclamation from us.

15. Vampire Money
“3, 2, 1/ We came to fuck!!” Gerard introduces each band member to start the song, which rips, with absolute filth, through raw, Punk murderous-ness. And it’s not a typical modern imitation of the Punk that so many have deemed dead. It’s as if My Chemical Romance, dirty, young, careless and hellbent on destroying the world, traveled back in time to open for the Ramones and brought the future with them to the stage.

The gritty solo in "Vampire Money," the whole song in fact, sounds like someone took something simple, a formula for Punk song with hand-claps, rhythmic up-shouts and other staples, and scribbled all over it and ripped and frayed it until it was perfect.

It’s a Trans-Am peel-out of Zone 5 proportions that will kick you straight in the teeth and leave you for dead. As art should. It’s the perfect way to end an amazing adventure and come back to 2010.

---

The resounding themes of the album seem to be: living and creating to the fullest without regard for the consequences ("the aftermath is secondary"), defending yourself, uniting in pursuit of something, freedom, explosions and bad-assery. There are far more slow songs on the album than many had anticipated. However, the slow ones have as much power as the fast to grab the listener and strangle them to attention with the force of Kobra Kid’s Draculoid-dusting power glove.

Though the Killjoys concept is heavy, ‘Danger Days…’ is the most straightforward My Chemical Romance album, and could possibly be the one that will remove from the band, along with its fans, the marks misinterpretation have left on us all.

And so, my Dust Kittens, concludes my review. If you have any questions about the album that you are dying to have answered, leave them in the comments, and I will be happy to respond!

PS: Living without "DESTROYA" and "Vampire Money" for the next couple weeks may make me lose my mind.


XoXo
c.

More perspectives:
Buzznet photos | Fellow Killjoy Irene's review | Buzznet Album Review | My Chemical Freak review | Brandi from MCFreak's trip re-cap

Pictures from my trip

33 comments:

Sara said...

Oh my god. Just. Oh my god. And we're supposed to wait for this HOW?!?!?!?

Thank you SOOOOO much for the review, it's amazing, and now I am EVEN MORE pumped for this album. :D

Gothic Charm School said...

Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for posting this track-by-track review. I am now even more ridiculously excited for this album.

Sharky_Fandango said...

Sharktasmic review! It only made me salivate more in anticipation of the album! Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

Brilliant review that's made amped up my already terrific anticipation. Thank you so much for this!

Anonymous said...

Wow. You're a great writer! XD
But uh, I heard somewhere that there's a twist to the whole story sorta thing going on in Danger Days... Is there a twist? If there is, don't tell me!

Thanks, you ROCK.

Anonymous said...

thank you sooo much for that review! if it's possible, i'm now more excited than ever. 9 days left (at least for germany)
<3

Cassie The Venomous said...

Thank you all so much for reading! I'm asbolutely thrilled that you liked it.

I know it's a beast in size, but the album is a beast. It had to be done!

As far as a twist... There's something weird going on in "S/C/A/R/E/C/R/O/W," but that could just be my thinking something is weird that's not... You'll see soon! :]

-Cassie

Byron said...

hi!! thanks for the awesome review!
ive heard in youtube that theres a part in destroya that says "they dont believe in us, i do believe in me, i dont believe in God" its that right?? thanks :)

Cassie The Venomous said...

Byron-

Those are similar to the chorus lyrics. They're more along the lines of:

"I don't believe in God
I don't believe in luck
You don't believe in us,
But I believe in the enemy."

Or something like that. The "you"s and "I"s alternate.

The A.G.B said...

This is a very well-written review.. Way to make the best of an amazing opportunity!

12 days.....

Jade said...

This review has made me 923549387593 times more excited for the album, which I didn't think was humanely possible. I'm so glad you were chosen to go to the listening party, because you write such damn good reviews. Now I think I'M going to go crazy from waiting so long to hear "Vampire Money". Yes, that is the track I'm most excited for. THIS, is going to be outstanding. Bring on November 22nd!

Amanda Shotgun said...

How am I supposed to wait now?! XD Gahh I'm so excited. This was a wonderful review.

Mary said...

This review has amde me even more excited about the album. The one song I was really looking forward to was The World Is Ugly but it looks like that might not be on the album... right?

Another thing I'm wondering is that if Kobra Kid, Jet Star, and Party Poison get a song about them then what about Fun Ghoul.

I would be forever greatful if you got back to me on these questions. My twitter is marymccomish. I believe we've spoken before :)

Anonymous said...

The ending of the album sounds a LOT like a mixture between Queen's "Sheer Heart Attack" and "A Night at the Opera," but okay. Whatevah.

Thanks for the analysis. :D Too early to ask where it ranks amongst the other records?

shailaja said...

WANTWANTWANTNOW.

anita said...

Wow, so awesome! You made me even more excited to listen to this record!

Btw, did Warner pay you to go there? I mean, did they pay your and your friend's fly? So cool.

rubmyback said...

great review I just wish you wouldn't have given away the intro of "Vampire Money", kinda ruined it

Anonymous said...

Thanks for being one of the few to really give a SOLID and descriptive review of the album. It really irritated to me that so very few people who got this amazing opportunity to hear this album that hundreds and thousands of people have been waiting to hear for years either didn't bother to report back with a review or half assed it pretty much summing up every song with "epic". While I'm sure it was, I was expecting those who went to take their opportunity a bit more seriously on the behalf of those of us who wished dearly that we could have had the chance at the opportunity.

So, thank you.

Cassie The Venomous said...

Mary- You are correct. "The World is Ugly" is not there. The only song that we had kind of heard in the early stages was "Party Poison."

If there is a song specifically for Fun Ghoul, it's not made apparent.

--

Queen Anon- After just a couple listens to some of the newer songs, I still don't know where I would put it on my continuum. I think 'Revenge' will always be my favorite, but this is up there.

--

rubmyback-

Ah. I'm sorry about that. I promise there is a lot more to it than what I said, though. :] They actually gave it away themselves in an interview last week; so, I thought people kind of knew what was going on.

--

SOLID Anon- No problem. I would have wanted the same thing from someone, myself. I actually try to keep my posts shorter so that they're easier for people to read, but I didn't want to skimp on anything with this!

------------

Again, thank you all so much for reading!

-Cassie

Anonymous said...

Awesome review! Quick question: approximately how long is the album??
Thanks,
S_K

Anonymous said...

From what i've heard from Destroya, it is the best i've heard so far so I'm really stoked for that one. But i'm most excited for Vampire Money, so, Destroya or Vampire Money? Which is better? Please don't say they're both the same!

lackasexical said...

Awesome review! Answered a lot of my questions but made me even more eager XDD

One question though - I've heard that "Summertime" is pretty slow, but is there any other MCR song that you'd compare it to in terms of tempo? I'm just wondering how "slow" we're talking here :)

Cassie The Venomous said...

lackasexical-

I'm trying to think of the tempo in my head...

Maybe "Cemetery Drive" slow, or a bit slower?

It's hard to remember how it goes.

-Cassie

Cassie The Venomous said...

S_K -

Hmmmm.... I think we started listening at 10:30-ish and the party ended at 11:50-ish? But, that was after some discussion and playing a few of the songs again.

I'd say it's just a pretty standard album length. It seemed a lot shorter just listening to it because I was so wrapped up in it the whole time. Ha-ha!

----

Anon-

I would almost put them on equal levels. I thought I liked "Vampire Money" more, but it's hard to say which one is better between the two of them because they're so entirely different. My initial impulse was that I liked "Vampire Money" more.

Anonymous said...

When Gerard says the "uh uh uh uh" part when he does Destroya live,is it on the actual CD?

Cassie The Venomous said...

Anon-

Yes, that part is on the C.D.. There are also some speaker effects that intensify it and make it sound like there are multiple Gerards making those sounds at once. Ha-ha!

-Cassie

Anonymous said...

^^ That's hot, hahah.

Romy said...

That was such a great review, cannot wait now! Thank you so much! I've got a couple of questions, sorry to bother you. In the Kerrang! interview last year, 'Still Alive' was listed, has this been scrapped or re-worked? and the same for 'Black Dragon Fighting Society' and 'Boy Division'?
I've also read your Classic MCR reviews series, it was really cool to read about the shows and the band before TBP :)
Thank you!

Cassie The Venomous said...

Romy-

(I just answered this, but something failed; so, if it shows up twice, I'm sorry)

First of all, thank you so much for reading! It means a lot!

"Still Alive" was to be written from the perspective of a bottler at a festival, right? Ha-ha! If it's there, it has been DRASTICALLY re-worked.

I know for a fact that "Black Dragon Fighting Society" is not on the album.

"Boy Division" was a working title during 'The Black Parade,' and perhaps also for the first attempt at this album? I think it's just a perpetual working title.

Here's a list I compiled of song titles to a point:
http://venomousformaldehyde.blogspot.com/2010/04/new-my-chemical-romance-song-titles.html

I believe the only ones that were mentioned early on that stuck around were:

-"Party Poison" ("Death Before Disco")
-"Save Yourself, I'll Hold them Back"
-"Bulletproof Heart" ("Trans-Am")
and
-"The Only Hope For Me Is You"

I hope that helps! :]

-Cassie

Anonymous said...

The Album is actually quite good. I'm happy to say that, as the singles leading up to the release felt very weak/poppy/plastic/overproduced/unmemorable/unimaginative/derivative/any other invective. That sounds pretty mean when I put it that way, but I'm sure there are others that agree with me. Fortunately there are some standouts on this album. Is it the next Three Cheers...? No, but on careful listening a third of these songs are structured similarly to the songs on three cheers and I believe they were cuts that were reworked for this album. There are an equal number of 'theatrical' pieces that sound like cuts from Black Parade. Lastly there is the third of the album that doesn't work in my opinion. Mostly these have already been released and I do not believe they are reflective at all of the rest of the album. The album overall is enjoyable, though a bit of a let-down after all MCR built it up to be. MCR also declared that this would NOT be a concept album...except it is without a doubt a concept album...

This is not a bad thing to me, MCR is at their best with Way's over-the-top theatrical vocals, and equally theatrical lyrics and song structure. It just begs the question why Way emphasized over and over again that this was going to be a straight rock album and not a concept album.

Summary: It feels like a bunch of cuts from the last two MCR albums. Though it is a concept album, it feels disjointed and does not fit together as well as Three Cheers or Black Parade.That being said, this album is definitely a must buy, but feels diluted and aimless when compared to Three Cheers and Black Parade.

Cassie The Venomous said...

Anon-

Wow. Thanks for a really thoughtful comment. It's nice to see people engaging so deeply in the music and sharing their opinions.

I agree that the songs leading up to it are not exactly representative of the whole. At the listening party, in fact, everyone seemed to be much more excited about the ones they hadn't heard. Granted, there was the novelty factor that made them a little more exciting by default, but - I agree, I think the ones we hadn't heard prior to the Dr. Death Defying transmission are probably the strongest on the album. However, I would definitely not say that the others are weak.

I think a lot of the concept vs. not concept stuff came from the interviews that lead up to the version of the album they did not release. They had set a lot of rules for themselves then and one of those rules was to avoid concepts. They're still not saying the Killjoys world is a "concept," though, but a "high concept." I'm interpreting that as its being an environment in which the songs, which deal with very real ideas without too terribly much metaphor, exist.

It's as if the album is not a concept album if it's set in 2019? Ha-ha! That's kind of confusing.

I think that was the goal: to make it a zig-zagging adventure with an overall theme, but not with a set storyline. They're California 2019 driving songs. That's what I get from it. :]

-Cassie

Miss Ex said...

Hey, Cassie!

Listened to the CD and read your review. It was very detailed and bulky which I haven't seen much of in normal folks. Kudos to you! And loved the CD too. I haven't been able to stop listening to it. Unfortunately, I'm not as witty and informed as you about the music thing so that's another thing I liked about the review.

Question though:

I've been trying to decipher the speaking part at the end of Vampire Money by Gerard and I can't for the life of me understand what he is saying. Perhaps, you can shed some light on the matter??

Cassie The Venomous said...

Miss Ex-

Thank you so much for reading. I would never review any other band the way I do MCR here. I have promised that on this blog, I will never spare details that I can give when it comes to them. :]

I actually have not been able to decipher that little bit, either. All I have to hear is, "[It] is way too loud. We're gonna have to turn it down a little bit. Sorry."

Or something like that. I really do not know.

XoXo
c.